February is the month of love (well that’s what the marketers tell us with all the Valentine’s Day commercials and candy displays at the grocery store). Since I am approaching this year in terms of themes to guide my intentions for living I decided that February would be LOVE… but not superficial love that you can buy in candy form. Real freaking love. Love for myself, love for my family, my life, my daughter and most of all my hubby.
I’m in the last trimester of my second pregnancy. We already have a toddler running around. Aaron and I have been married for almost 5 years and we’ve been in each other’s lives for almost 10. We are in the thick of our “life”… we have bills to pay, decisions to make, jobs to go to and the future of our kiddos to worry about… taking time to remember how this all started has been a great exercise in appreciating each other. We met when we were in our twenties, living a block from the Pacific Ocean in southern California surrounded by friends, sunshine and freedom.
Now life is much different and much richer… we have become a family. Relationships change and love deepens. As a relationship evolves it can be easy to lose touch with the romantic feelings of courtship that were effortless in the beginning. I know from conversations with my friends that it can be quite easy to get in a routine of “sameness” with your partner as life goes on. But relationships demand attention and effort to thrive. The idea that you you need to “date” your spouse is not new. It’s a way to ensure the rekindling of the feelings of euphoria and bliss that were present in the start of the relationship. This month’s theme of LOVE has challenged me to change my perspective and look at my husband for the man he is…. smart, sexy, supportive, fun and talented. Below are 5 gems of advice from some close ladies in my life to add some spice to the relationship.
Here’s some of the ways we are keeping the “fire” burning:
The 5 Love Languages
This is a great tool to assess your communication style when it comes to expressing your feelings of love. What makes one person feel loved does not necessarily make another person feel loved. The creator of the 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman, found that “when couples discovered and spoke each other’s primary love language, it radically changed the emotional climate of their marriage”. Take the free quiz to discover your unique love language and have your partner take it too… with your new knowledge of each others’ preferred method of expression you can work towards making one another feel appreciated. My primary love language is Words of Affirmation and Aaron has been so much better at telling me things like, “you’re an amazing mother and a beautiful pregnant lady” or “man this dinner is so delicious, thanks for taking the time to get it ready” and it literally makes me light up like a Christmas tree!
Going out without your kids is ESSENTIAL for keeping the fire stoked. We honestly don’t do this enough, it’s so much easier to bring Everly with us and do a quick early happy hour or hang out with friends that also have kids. However, when we do get out just the two of us, without the diaper bag, it just feels lighter + more free. The investment in a good babysitter is worth it. Since I am super pregnant our date night this month was kind of cheesy (we went to an early dinner then hit up some thrift stores) but it gave us a chance to be in the world as Aaron and Jess. Not as Mom and Dad. Not as a family of 3. Just the two of us. I’m still working on getting Aaron to spontaneously plan a date night for us… but that is a topic for another post ; )
Take a photo vacation
This is a fun way to re-connect to your partner. Bust out some old photo albums of when you guys first got together. Reminisce about the crazy times and how you each felt in the beginning. This is also fun to do on Facebook… dig back to those old photos and crack a beer or pour a glass of wine and meander through the memories. This is an awesome way to open up the conversation about what you love most about each other, what attracted you to your partner in the first place, how the start of your relationship unfolded from each of your perspectives. It’s so much fun. Put on some tunes that remind you of the “good ol days”… some of our favorites are Lay me Down by Dirty Heads, Jesus Etc. by Wilco and Young Wild and Free by Wiz Khalifa. We are total nerds.
The Gift of Time
Give your hunny some time to do something by themselves. Sometimes allowing space for ourselves to be alone or do something as an individual is all we need to gain perspective and come home with a heart full of gratitude. I love my girls nights. Aaron loves his nights to go jam with the band. This month Aaron had a weekday off and although I really really wanted us to do something as a family, I could sense that he needed some solo time. I encouraged him to get up to the mountains and ski. He went and came back so full of love for me that it was totally worth sacrificing the day that I wanted so he could have the day that he wanted/needed. Plus I’ll get my ski days next season when I am not carrying around our unborn child ; )
Not everyone likes to be surprised, but just the element of doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to spice things up. I personally LOVE surprises. Doing something thoughtful that is unexpected is a surefire way for Aaron to show me some love. It’s really the act of going out of your way to make the other person feel appreciated that counts. It doesn’t have to be big either- its coming home with flowers one day for no reason. Just knowing what makes your partner happy and giving it to them for no reason is all it takes… for example, I stocked the fridge with Aaron’s favorite beer after I knew he had a long week at work. Surprises are the best : )
Most of all its keeping those lines of communication open. Letting the people that you love know that you love them through your words, your actions and your attitude. Relationships are like gardens, you have to be attentive if you want to see the fruits of your labor.
How do you keep your relationships positive? What works for you?